border airport
(Image: Unsplash/Yolanda Sun)

A FINE STATE OF AFFAIRS

Anyone who has visited India within 14 days of arriving in Australia will from today risk jail terms up to five years and fines of up to $66,000, with Guardian Australia reporting that several groups have raised human rights concerns — and the possibility of multiple legal issues — but Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne has denied the ban was motivated by racism.

Payne has cited medical advice for implementing the ban, which will be reviewed on May 15, and that the rate of positive cases in quarantine having come from India has grown from 10% to 57% in the past month.

However critics such as Anthony Albanese and former race discrimination commissioner Tim Soutphommasane have pointed to inconsistencies with the policy; for example, Australia did not implement bans against the United States or the United Kingdom when their per capita rates were higher, when Australia was dealing with more total COVID-19 case in quarantine, or when COVID-19 variants developed in countries such as South Africa.

Elsewhere, Mark McGowan has announced Perth will not re-enter lockdown after three new community cases — a hotel guard and two of his housemates — were identified on Saturday. However the ABC notes that masks will remain mandatory indoors and outdoors, and no crowd was allowed at yesterday’s AFL western derby

And today marks the first day Australians over 50 can get their first AstraZeneca dose. For where and how, check out The New Daily’s guide.

PS: Narendra Modi — the prime minister who just a few weeks ago held Trump-like election rallies — has been handed a rare political defeat after his right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party tanked in West Bengal’s state election. India yesterday saw a record daily death toll of 3689, even as total official numbers dip slightly.

EMISSION STATEMENT

The Victorian government has pledged to slash emissions by 45-50% by 2030 compared with 2005 levels, The Age reports, meaning the state has almost doubled the federal 26-28% pledge first made by Tony Abbott and maintained under Scott Morrison.

The targets, which would have been announced last year but were delayed by the pandemic, also include a plan to power all government operations — including metro trains, schools and hospitals — with renewable energy by 2025.

However some environmental groups have criticised the Andrews government’s announcement for falling short of the Paris target of 1.5C global warming, with RenewEconomy noting the targets come in at the lower end of the 45-60% range suggested by an independent expert panel chaired by former Labor minister for energy and climate change Greg Combet.

Victoria has also announced a $3000 electric vehicle subsidy as part of a $100 million package, unveiled after facing criticism for its controversial EV road tax.

TASSIE TALLIES

Finally, as votes continue to be counted for the Tasmanian election, the ABC reports that state Liberals have improved their position in the crucial electorate of Clark but may still fail to win a majority government.

Two seats currently remain in play, one of which Peter Gutwein’s Liberals would have to grab to take the 13 seats required for majority government. With 81% of the electorate’s vote counted, the most likely option is currently an independent and a Liberal MP or, potentially, two independents.

Of the independents, Glenorchy Mayor Kristie Johnston is ahead of former Liberal-turned-independent Sue Hickey.

PS: In other election news, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that former member for Wentworth Kerryn Phelps has announced she will bow out of Sydney’s mayoral race due to the health of a close family member.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

I know what it means to do time for absolutely no reason whatsoever. I also know what it means to be rescued from a COVID-riddled overseas hellhole and be brought back to Australia (yes into quarantine). This outrageous policy is immoral, unjustifiable and completely unAustralian

Kylie Moore-Gilbert

The academic detained for more than two years in Iran slams news Australians caught flying home from India could face up to five years jail. One could quibble over how “unAustralian” an immigration program criminalising certain travellers really is.

CRIKEY RECAP

‘Deeply disappointing’: tax office pushes ahead with prosecution of whistleblower Richard Boyle

“Any hopes that the government was quietly backing away from its war on whistleblowers have been dashed after the Commonwealth signalled it would push ahead with the prosecution of Australian Tax Office (ATO) whistleblower Richard Boyle.

“Boyle is facing life in prison for his role in exposing unethical debt collection practices inside the ATO. Three external reviews corroborated many of Boyle’s concerns. The Commonwealth signalled it may walk away from the case in March, but told a hearing on Thursday it would instead push ahead with the charges.”


Years in the making, an unlikely coalition sends big coal packing from the Liverpool Plains — for now

“Five years ago, I visited one of the leaders of the opposition to the proposed giant Shenhua coal mine in the Liverpool Plains. The house was a yellow brick art deco place, a common style in rural Australia, vaguely municipal. Inside it had been meticulously restored. Except it had been restored back beyond art deco. It was an impeccable 19th century interior.

“It was like some steampunk Tardis, full of dark red velvet and hanging serving spoons you could see your face in. As we talked about the campaign, I thought: wow, these people are really up against it. Their commitment is unyielding but they’re fighting the sweep of history. They can’t win.”


Should Australians over 50 get the AstraZeneca jab or wait for more Pfizer?

“In Both Sides Now, author and ethicist Leslie Cannold presents two sides of an argument. Then it’s over to you: what do you think is true, and what do you think Cannold really believes?

“Today: should Australians over the age of 50 arrange to have their AstraZeneca jab from Monday?

“Yes: It’s not ideal but it’s the best chance we’ve got for safely removing the barriers to opening up our borders, and the risks to health for the over-50s are very low. No: Australians over-50s should not accept this inferior vaccine when coronavirus numbers are so low that the risks outweigh the benefits.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

The war to win the childcare vote, as Labor accuses the government of ‘imitation’

Budget 2021: More jobs return in ‘red hot’ labour market ($)

Revealed, the secret vaccines deal that gave Australia access to AstraZeneca doses

‘Strategic own goal’: Defence reviews Port of Darwin’s Chinese ownership

One in three think federal government should do more to bring overseas Australians back home: Lowy poll

‘Outrageous’ lockdown secrecy slammed ($)

Prescribed burn devastates one of WA’s last two endangered numbat habitats

Seven killed as security forces open fire on protesters in Myanmar

Manchester United fans invade stadium in protest against owners

Afghan forces face ‘bad possible outcomes’ against Taliban — US general

G.O.P. seeks to empower poll watchers, raising intimidation worries

THE COMMENTARIAT

An extra $1.7b for child care will help some. It won’t improve affordability for mostKate Noble and Peter Hurley (The Conversation): “The government says the changes ‘deliberately target low and middle income earners, with around half the families set to benefit having a household income under $130,000’. How will these changes affect you? In the short term, not at all. They won’t affect anyone until July 2022. After that some families will see great benefit. But our analysis suggests the policy package won’t do much to improve the affordability of child care for many families on low to middle incomes. Nor will it do anything to address systemic problems.”

Top income earners carry burden on tax ($) — Tom Dusevic (The Australian): “Spare a thought for the ‘1%’ as they’ve been doing even more of the heavy lifting to replenish Treasury’s coffers. And until there is tax relief, which could be killed by politics, the burden on those earning above $200,000 a year will keep rising and our tax system will become more complicated and less fair. Analysis of Australian Taxation Office data by Deloitte ­Access Economics partner Chris Richardson shows this year the top 1% of taxpayers will pay 18% of all personal income tax, up from 16.9% three years ago.”

Curriculum plan deserves support, not a retread of the history warsThe Age’s View (The Age): “What has proved inflammatory is that some of the authority’s changes and cuts, particularly in the humanities, give less emphasis to “Christian heritage” in the areas of civics and citizenship. Also in the spotlight is its proposal to give status to First Nations culture and history as a ‘cross-curriculum priority’ embedded within all key disciplines from maths and science to history.”

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Peter Fray

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